Greece orders anti-abortion ads removed from Athens metro

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece's center-right government ordered the removal of anti-abortion posters put up Monday in Athens underground billboards under a paid public awareness campaign by a pro-life group.

A transport ministry statement said the posters, which carried the slogan “Choose life” under a picture of an unborn fetus, target women's “legally protected and indisputable right” to abortion.

Abortion ceased to be illegal in Greece in 1986 and is now common, although the precise numbers involved are unknown as official records are not kept.

Monday's ministry statement said campaigns in public areas “should not divide public opinion or, clearly, insult women who have been forced to make such a difficult choice.”

The ministry said it had instructed the Athens underground operating company to spare no effort to remove the posters as soon as possible.

While the debate on abortion has not been particularly acrimonious in Greece, the issue came to public attention in recent weeks after a sports daily covered its front page with a pro-life poster — triggering a flurry of reactions both positive and negative.

Last year, the country's powerful Orthodox Church declared the first Sunday after Christmas an official day for the protection of unborn children's lives.